ITV Sport will be bringing viewers exclusive terrestrial coverage of the French Open, the most prestigious clay court event in the world and the second Grand Slam of the tennis season, starting on May 27.
It is the first time that ITV has screened a Grand Slam tournament, and the broadcaster will screen more than 150 hours of live coverage on ITV1 and ITV4.
John Inverdale will lead the network’s extensive coverage, and will be joined by a wealth of on-screen talent to bring the tournament to life over the course of the 15-day event.
The key question for tennis fans at this year’s French Open is whether Rafael Nadal can become the first player in history to win seven men’s singles titles at Roland Garros.
His closest rival Novak Djokovic attempt to beat him and secure his first French Open title.
Despite never reaching the final at Roland Garros, world number one Novak Djokovic remains a serious threat having won the last three Grand Slams in a row.
After a magnificent performance in the final against Nadal at Roland Garros last year, expect Roger Federer to be a contender once again. The 16-time Grand Slam winner previously won the event back in 2009.
Britain’s Andy Murray, playing on his least favoured surface, will be looking to build on his first semi-final appearance last year where he lost to eventual winner Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
Having equalled Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles last year, ‘King of Clay’ Nadal will be the favourite once again this time around.
Though he will look to bounce back from defeat in the Australian Open final back in January when he lost to Novak Djokovic in a gruelling encounter that lasted almost six hours.
On the women’s side, Li Na became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title at the French Open last year when she saw off the 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.
Other leading contenders to claim this year’s title include current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova who lost to the former in this year’s Australian Open final.
Although she hasn’t won the event since 2003, Serena Williams has already impressed on clay this season and should prove a formidable opponent.
Agnieszka Radwanska will look to continue her remarkable WTA campaign, having collected two titles and 29 match wins, just one short of Azarenka.
Outside of Andy Murray, British interest in Paris includes Heather Watson, who has qualified for the main draw for the second successive year, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, and Laura Robson, who qualified as a lucky loser.
It promises to be a fascinating tournament and the French Open kicks off a busy summer of tennis, with Wimbledon and the Olympics to follow.
Here’s SOTB’s guide to how you can follow all the action from the 2012 French Open on ITV and British Eurosport:
In a surprising move last autumn, ITV won the rights to screen the French Open in a three-year deal, ending the BBC’s long-standing association with the event.
While the majority of the BBC’s coverage was mainly positioned behind the Red Button, ITV will provide more than 150 hours of terrestrial coverage during the two-week tournament.
ITV’s live coverage will be based from a special studio on the Roland Garros site, where presenter John Inverdale will be joined by an array of well-known faces to guide viewers through the action.
The commentary line-up includes former two-time French Open champion and US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier, 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, and French tennis legend Fabrice Santoro.
Nick Mullins, who was part of ITV’s Rugby World Cup team last autumn as well as the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage, is also part of the commentary team, along with regular BBC and Sky Sports commentators Mark Petchey and Sam Smith.
Roving reports and interviews from around Roland Garros will come from Celina Hinchcliffe.
Up to 11 hours of daily live coverage will be shown on ITV4 throughout the tournament, with selected coverage on ITV1 at weekends. A late-night highlights show will also be shown on ITV4.
On the final weekend, the men’s and women’s singles finals will be shown on ITV1 and ITV1 HD.
Due a clash with the Euro 2012 match between Spain and Italy, if the men’s singles final overruns beyond 4.15pm then live coverage will switch to ITV4.
Alongside free-to-air TV coverage, ITV.com will feature all the action from ITV1 and ITV4 during the tournament, and high-definition coverage will also be available on ITV1 HD and ITV4 HD.
Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport said: “I’m hugely excited that we are bringing the French Open to ITV.
“It’s the first time a grand slam has been shown live on ITV and we’ll be offering viewers more free-to-air coverage of the French Open than ever before.
“We have a fantastic experienced line-up of presenters, commentators and pundits who will be able to bring the drama of the clay court to life, live on ITV.”
ITV Sport’s production partner for the French Open at Roland Garros from 2012 to 2014 is Input Media, who will provide the technical infrastructure and support for ITV’s extensive HD production.
Online betting company Bet365 has signed a significant six-figure deal to sponsor ITV’s French Open coverage.
For further details on ITV’s French Open coverage, along with live video, match highlights and interviews, visit itv.com/frenchopen, or follow ITV’s dedicated French Open Twitter feed for the latest updates direct from Roland Garros- @itvfrenchopen
British Eurosport will also have extensive coverage from Roland Garros.
The pan-European broadcaster’s live studio will be presented by Rob Curling with guests Greg Rusedski and Virginia Wade providing expert analysis, with commentary coming from Simon Reed, Frew McMillan, David Mercer, David Felgate and Jo Durie.
Three-time French Open winner Mats Wilander will present the Eurosport’s daily review show, Game, Set and Mats, alongside former junior Wimbledon champion Annabel Croft.
The duo will use their expertise to provide analysis from the day’s play, and will be joined by the top stars throughout the tournament, bringing viewers the latest news and interviews.
Extended highlights of a selected match will be shown in ‘Duel of the Day’ on British Eurosport each night.
Live coverage will be shown on both British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2, with HD coverage available on Eurosport HD.
Eurosport will also be providing exclusive 3D coverage from Roland Garros, with a live feed of the action on Court Philippe Chatrier to be shown via Sky’s 3D channel from May 28. Both singles finals will also be shown in 3D.
Virgin Media subscribers will also be able to watch the 3D coverage, provided they have a HD compatible set top box and a 3D enabled high-definition television will be able to enjoy all the 3D action on channel 523.
For those who can’t get to a TV, Eurosport Player enables viewers to watch live multi-court service, with video on-demand available from the quarter-finals onwards.
French Open 2012 – Men’s / Women’s Draws – CLICK HERESunday 27th May Day 1 – Men’s / Women’s First Round LIVE – 9.30am-2.45pm – ITV4 | 2.45pm-5.30pm – ITV1 5.30pm-8pm – ITV3 LIVE – 9.30am-8.30pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8.30pm-9pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1am-2.05am – ITV4 Monday 28th May Day 2 – Men’s / Women’s First Round LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm - British Eurosport Highlights - 2.10am-3.10am – ITV4 Tuesday 29th May Day 3 – Men’s / Women’s First round LIVE - 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 9.30am-7pm - British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm - British Eurosport Highlights – 1.55am-3am – ITV4 Wednesday 30th May Day 4 – Men’s / Women’s Second Round LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 7.30pm-8.05pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 2am-3.05am – ITV4 Thursday 31st May Day 5 – Men’s / Women’s Second Round LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm - British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.45am-2.50am – ITV4 Friday 1st June Day 6 – Men’s / Women’s Third Round LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm - British Eurosport Highlights – 1.55am-3am – ITV4 Saturday 2nd June Day 7 – Men’s / Women’s Third Round LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 | 11.15am-4pm – ITV1 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.50am-3am – ITV4 Sunday 3rd June Day 8 – Men’s / Women’s Last 16 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 | 9.30am-6.30pm – ITV1 LIVE – 8.15am-8pm - British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm - British Eurosport Highlights – 1.50am-3am – ITV4 Monday 4th June Day 9 – Men’s / Women’s Last 16 LIVE – 9.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 8.30am-8pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 8pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.50am-3am – ITV4 Tuesday 5th June Day 10 – Men’s / Women’s Quarter Finals LIVE – 12.30pm-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 12.30pm-7pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 7pm-7.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.05am-2.10am – ITV4 Wednesday 6th June Day 11 – Men’s / Women’s Quarter Finals LIVE – 12.30pm-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 12.30pm-6.30pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 6.30pm-7pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.30am-2.40am – ITV4 Thursday 7th June Day 12 – Women’s Semi Finals LIVE – 12.30pm-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 12.30pm-7.30pm – British Eurosport / British Eurosport 2 Game, Set and Mats – 5.30pm-6pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 2.20am-3.30am – ITV4 Friday 8th June Day 13 – Men’s Semi Finals LIVE – 11.30am-8pm – ITV4 LIVE – 11.30am-6pm – British Eurosport Game, Set and Mats – 6pm-6.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 1.50am-3am – ITV4 Saturday 9th June Women’s Singles Final LIVE - 1pm-4.45pm – ITV1 | 12.30pm-7pm – ITV4 LIVE - 1.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Game, Set and Mats - 4.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Highlights - 1.35am-2.45am – ITV4 Sunday 10th June Men’s Singles Final LIVE - 1pm-4.15pm – ITV1 | 4pm-8pm - ITV4 LIVE - 1.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Game, Set and Mats – 5pm-5.15pm - British Eurosport Highlights - 2.20am-3.20am – ITV4 . .